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Canine Minute Virus (Parvovirus) in Dogs

Canine Minute Virus, also known as Canine Parvovirus Type-1, is an infectious disease which usually affects young puppies. This tiny virus generally targets heart and respiratory system, and is also believed to result in the spontaneous abortion of fetuses as well as the death of newborn puppies. For 20 years after first being discovered, this so-called “orphan virus” was thought to be reasonably harmless and non-pathogenic. Further scientific studies conducted however, showed that Canine Minute Virus was not as harmless as previously believed, but posed extreme danger for fetuses and newborn puppies.

Symptoms of Canine Minute Virus

Puppy fetuses contract the disease through the mother’s placenta, or as soon as they’re born. It is assumed that newborn puppies contract the disease nasally or orally, and transplacental infection is believed to occur when pregnant mothers are infected with the virus between 20 and 30 days of pregnancy. During this time, abortion or reabsorption of the puppies frequently occurs.

Puppies that contract the disease when they are born will die suddenly when they are about one to three weeks old. The only visible symptoms that they have the disease, is normally limited to diarrhea and/or breathing problems, which are not always severe. Inflammation of the heart or viral myocarditis is usually the cause of death in these puppies.

Littermates that survive the disease will have vague, non-specific symptoms, such as mild respiratory problems, mild diarrhea, and loss of appetite. These puppies usually recover in a few days.

Treatment for Canine Minute Virus

Unfortunately, because puppies die in the womb or at a very early age, the disease is only diagnosed after they die. Treatment for the disease is not possible, because newborn puppies die so suddenly, that there is no time to start proper treatment.

Diagnosis for Canine Minute Virus

Although the diagnosis of MVC is difficult, if a laboratory has the proper antigens, they can, by using immunofluorescence techniques, isolate the virus. Further examination of tissue from dead puppies, will probably show evidence of the virus in the bronchial tubes or small intestine. These processes are normally done to try and determine why a small puppy has suddenly died for no apparent reason.

Areas and Breeds Affected by Canine Minute Virus

Very little is known as to why certain animals are infected with MVC and others not, and no vaccine is currently available for the disease. Since the virus attacks fetuses in the womb or directly after the puppy is born, there is little likelihood of a vaccine becoming available any time soon.


Generally, if a puppy makes it to the stage where he can be taken from his mother safely, the danger of him contracting the disease is highly unlikely. Furthermore, Canine Minute Virus is an extremely rare disease, which affects only a very small percentage of dogs in the world.

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